Writing for PoliticsHome on the opening day of the Paralympics, former Olympic athlete Sir Menzies Campbell MP urges people to get behind Team GB once again.
The first half of the Olympics may be over but there's still the equally enthralling second half to come. The Paralympics are sold out and public support for them is overwhelming. Make no mistake, those competing are not the disabled who happened to be athletes, these are athletes who happen to be disabled. For every Farah, Ennis, Pendleton or Adlington there will be just as committed courageous and impressive sportsmen and women over the next fortnight. Paralympians train just as hard, compete just as keenly and achieve just as much as their able-bodied opposite numbers.
The first half of London 2012 was such a success as to exhaust all available superlatives. On the track, in the pool, in diving or dressage, there were awesome performances. For Team GB the outcome exceeded all expectations and proved that British sportsmen and women stand comparison with the elite of the world. But all this was only possible because of the preparation and investment of many years. And it proved so because the concept, the facilities and the organisation of the Games was as effective in performance as the athletes themselves.
All of this was a far cry from the Olympics of Tokyo 1964 when I competed. We were the last of the amateurs and the first of the professionals; unpaid and with minimal medical and financial support, but required to pit ourselves against the sham amateurs of the Iron Curtain and the often full-time athletes of the American college system. I don't grudge competitors of today any of the vast improvements which they now enjoy. Ours was a different time and a different place and we rejoiced in the opportunity provided.
That wise man John Disley, himself an Olympian who helped Chris Brasher to create the London Marathon, once observed: "There will always be a difference between those who sweat and those who don't."
To be an Olympic sportsman or woman, irrespective of medals won or lost, is to be admitted to an exclusive club - membership of which is available to all but only achieved by a few, and the fee for which is much sweat and effort.
All of this is as relevant in the second half of London 2012 as it was in the first. We shall see bravery, commitment and achievement in abundance but I hope we will pay particular attention to the personal stories which lie behind these sporting events. I am looking forward to seeing two women in action whom I met earlier this year. One already an international sportswoman before she was knocked off her bicycle and confined to a wheelchair, and the other similarly constrained as a result of the injuries she received in a terrorist outrage. I shall cheer for them as loudly as I did for Usain Bolt and Greg Rutherford, and so should we all.